- Judicial Commission’s report holds Punjab govt responsible for murders of 14 Qadri followers
- Justice Najfi says written testimonies show Shahbaz Sharif did not order police to disengage as clashes turned violent in Model Town on June 17
- Judge says Shahbaz used the word ‘disengagement’ in his affidavit on an ‘afterthought’
- Punjab govt says Justice Najfi’s report ‘inconclusive’ and will be further analysed before making it public
- LHC upholds session court’s orders for FIR in Model Town killings case
- Single bench orders police to complete investigations before arresting any person named in Minhajul Quran application
The embattled Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday found itself grappling with yet another challenge after a private news channel aired contents of the judicial commission’s report into the Model Town killings incident in which the investigating judge has laid the onus of the massacre of 14 political workers on the Punjab government administered by Sharif’s younger brother, Shahbaz Sharif.
Also on Tuesday, a single bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) upheld a session’s court decision ordering police to register a case against 21 people, including the Sharif brothers, some important federal ministers and senior officials of the Punjab Police and bureaucracy.
The court has, however, directed the police not to arrest any of the persons nominated by the applicant, Tahirul Qadri’s Minhajul Quran International (MQI), without conducting a thorough investigation into the case.
JC’S REPORT HOLDS PUNJAB GOVT RESPONSIBLE:
According to the judicial commission’s report revealed by private news channel Dunya News on Tuesday, the report’s author Justice Baqir Ali Najfi has held the Punjab government “directly responsible” for the tragedy that took place outside Minhajul Quran Secretariat in Model Town on June 17.
In the report, Justice Najfi noted that the police’s attempt to remove barriers from outside MQI Secretariat was illegal because the organisation had obtained permission from the Lahore High Court.
The report further stated that Minhaj and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) workers had not fired a single shot at the policemen and neither had the police recovered any weapon from them during the clashes.
Making damning revelations, Justice Najfi’s report further states that neither former Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah nor former principal secretary to the chief minister, Dr Tauqeer Shah, had mentioned in their affidavits that they had been directed by the chief minister to “disengage” the police, as claimed by the chief minister in his affidavit.
The report states that in his affidavit, Shahbaz Sharif had used the word “disengagement” on an “afterthought”. He also notes that while addressing a press conference on the evening of June 17, Shahbaz had not mentioned that he had ordered the police to retreat, which was quite surprising given the sensitivity of the situation.
Justice Najfi observed that it was quite evident that the chief minister had given no such orders to the police and therefore the entire responsibility of the massacre rested on the shoulders of the Punjab government and police.
Sources alleged that the Punjab government had been sitting on Justice Najfi’s findings for the last couple of weeks ostensibly to gain time for planning a damage control strategy.
PUNJAB GOVT SAYS REPORT INCONCLUSIVE:
An official statement by the Punjab government later in the evening claimed that the government had received Justice Najfi’s reports “but it was observed that the report required further analysis as it was inconclusive”.
“Since the report was based on certain documents, statements and affidavits, which were not provided with the report, therefore a request was immediately made to the high court for the provision of the documents so that the report may be reviewed and necessary action taken,” said the statement.
It added that the government has constituted a committee to carry out a detailed analysis of the report and make recommendations and a way forward accordingly. “The moment the subject missing documents are received, the report shall be referred to the committee and further necessary action would be taken in the light of the recommendations of the committee,” it concluded.
SANA SAYS REPORT INCOMPLETE:
Commenting on the revelations made in the JC’s report, one of the central characters in the case, Rana Sanaullah, said that Justice Najfi’s report does not mention the authority that ordered police to open fire on the protesters.
“Nobody was declared responsible for the incident in this report,” said Sanaullah, the former law minister.
Commenting on the June 16 meeting which decided action against TMQ, Sanaullah said that the participants had just discussed the removal of barriers and none of the participants had called for extreme police action.
“There were 15 other people in the meeting but none of them were summoned by the JC therefore the findings are incomplete and it would be wrong to accuse us of the unfortunate incident,” he said.
Sanaullah added the process of releasing the report takes at least 40 days.
“During this period, the report will be reviewed by a committee which would then give its suggestions and the final report would be made public,” he said, adding that if the report had given any findings, he would have filed a review petition against it.
The former law minister believes that a conspiracy had been hatched to topple the PML-N government.
“Such dramas are being staged ever since the sit-ins began in Islamabad,” he concluded.
LHC ORDERS FIR:
Meanwhile, in his short order later in the day, Justice Mahmood Maqbool Bajwa of the LHC turned down the petition filed by Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique and Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali against the session’s court verdict, stating that the petitioners had failed to establish their case.
During the course of hearing, MQI counsel Mansoor Rehman Afridi said police had deliberately ignored substantial evidences and statements of eyewitnesses and lodged a one-sided FIR on the complaint of a police official.
He said the FIR registered by the police had no value in the law, adding a bench of the Sindh High Court had ordered a third FIR to be registered in the same case.
The joint investigation team (JIT)’s head Additional Inspector General Arif Mushtaq also appeared and submitted a report to the judge in his chambers.
Petitioner’s counsel Azam Nazir Tarar argued that PAT leaders, including Qadri, had refused to join the investigations. Tarar added that nobody turned up on behalf of the Minhajul Quran or PAT despite several invitations by police and the JIT.
Tarar alleged that the petition filed by MQI before the sessions court was “politically motivated”.
“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and others named as suspects in the application of Minhajul Quran have no link with the incident,” he said.
Punjab Advocate General Hanif Khatana said the session’s court passed the order without viewing investigation reports of the joint investigation team and police.
The MQI administration had submitted an application with police to file a First Information Report (FIR) against a total of 21 people, which also included Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Rana Sanaullah, Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and State Minister for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali.
The four ministers have now decided to challenge the single bench’s decision through an intra-court appeal after the detailed verdict is released.
PTI REQUEST DISMISSED:
Furthermore, earlier on Tuesday, the court dismissed a request by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to become a party in the appeal challenging the session court’s ruling.
The request was filed by Zubair Khan Niazi on behalf of his party. However, the court dismissed it saying the PTI was not an aggrieved group and hence had no cause to become party in the case.